An A-10 Thunderbolt II undergoes pre-flight inspections at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. on March 23, 2006. The retirement of the A-10 is being pushed back to 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by/Airman 1st Class Jesse Shipps)
Popular Mechanics: U.S. Air Force Fires Up the A-10 Depot Line to Keep Warthogs Flying 'Indefinitely'
In addition to standard maintenance and upkeep, the attack planes will be fitted with new wings.
On paper, the Air Force plans to start mothballing the A-10 in 2018, with the last Warthogs sent to the boneyard by 2021. But last month Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said that the retirement of the A-10 would likely have to be delayed further as the military continues to rely on the low-and-slow attack plane for close-air support (CAS) missions flown against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Even more telling, the Air Force Material Command (AFMC) is bringing the depot line for A-10 maintenance and repair back up to full capacity, according to Aviation Week.
The Hawg isn't going anywhere.
"They have re-geared up, we've turned on the depot line, we're building it back up in capacity and supply chain," AFMC chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski recently told Aviation Week. "Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely."
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WNU Editor: The idea of cancelling your only proven Close Air Support plane while you are waging multiple wars in multiple areas around the world never made any sense. This decision by the Pentagon to ramp up the supply chain for the A-10 is a belated acknowledgement of this fact.